Definition of curlicue in English:



  • A decorative curl or twist in calligraphy or in the design of an object.

    ‘the wide bridge was decorated with gilded wrought-iron curlicues’
    • ‘He dips and turns and makes curlicues with his arms.’
    • ‘They have one trunk only, and short branches, and their leaves adorn these little branches like curlicues.’
    • ‘Red carpets flow up sumptuous staircases and the walls erupt in cornices and curlicues.’
    • ‘An elaborate mantelpiece framed the hearth in a dizzying array of swirls and curlicues, and a tall grandfather clock lurked in the corner like a brooding sentry, counting out the seconds with a gloomy tock, tock, tock.’
    • ‘It was a proper printing job, the title words adorned with elegant curlicues.’
    • ‘The black paintwork was decorated with gold lines and curlicues like an Edwardian dandy's carriage.’
    • ‘An accompanying tower of sweet potatoes separated with parsnip purée and bedecked with haricots verts is downright dapper, as is a spray of crunchy shaved parsnip curlicues.’
    • ‘He eyes critically the curlicues the hairdresser has snipped into his foliage.’
    • ‘The walls were panelled in wood, the floor covered in carpets decorated with curlicues to rival any Persian rug.’
    • ‘The sign screwed to the brickwork was in stiff English capitals and the curlicues beneath were Bengali.’
    • ‘If you think baroque is all about curlicues and foofaraws, Rome is the place to learn otherwise.’
    • ‘There are parchments of painstaking calligraphy, replete with fabulous swirls and curlicues, and magic carpets wider than the Bosphorus.’
    • ‘There was a vast expanse of marble slabbed flooring, all green and cream swirls, and lots of polished wood with carved curlicues.’
    • ‘The voice is always in evidence, of course, but it's in public that it becomes shaped, like a piece of music, and one almost consciously listens for all the gilded glissandoes, the curlicues of wit, the velvet pauses.’
    • ‘Unless you're cuckoo for curlicues, you may wonder the same thing.’
    • ‘I guess I've always thoughtlessly assumed they were decorative, like curlicues and friezes.’
    • ‘From one perspective, the looping appendages and curving elements suggest the handles and decorative curlicues of a Rococo urn.’
    • ‘Her hair, the color of a late-autumn leaf, curlicues straight down her neck.’
    • ‘Heavens, that seal consists of enough flourishes and curlicues to amaze the eye - yet that design also contains within it tremendous tautness and discipline, as a piece of design.’
    • ‘Third, the apostrophes are curlicues of the sort produced by word processors on personal computers, not the straight vertical hashmarks typical of typewriters.’
    spiral, coil, wreath, twirl, swirl, furl, twist, corkscrew, whorl, helix, gyre
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century: from curly + cue (in the sense ‘pigtail’), or -cue representing the letter q.